Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Is It Too Late for Spiritual Renewal?

By Alexander Samuels

"Spiritual renewal" is a phrase I often use in the place of the word "revival." Revival is something that men make happen with evangelistic campaigns and such. At least, that is how it has come to be defined in our postmodern era. When spiritual renewal takes place in the church, it is a work of the grace and mercy of God through the Holy Spirit. Men and women are filled afresh with the Holy Spirit. Prayer and other disciplines of faith take on more consistency and power. People feel the urge to speak of spiritual things and are deeply concerned that every aspect of their lives be in right relationship to God.

There seems to be very little concern about . . . spiritual renewal in our churches today. The secular philosophies of this world dominate the thought life of our culture. The Christianity that once was is now a pale ghost of the powerful Reformation doctrines that turned the world upside down. We may note that Christianity's teaching of responsibility for your neighbor's welfare is still a powerful driving force by the response of thousands of Christians to the victims of the recent hurricanes. Christian doctrines and convictions, however, seem to have mostly become watered-down casualties of religious correctness. More and more individuals who have adopted Christianity as their pet religion personally do so to feel good about themselves and not because they've known the call of grace or desire to hear God "speak."

How many are there saying with David, "Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long" (Psalm 25:4-5)? What has happened to our passion for the Word of God? "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10). The truth of God's Word and our worship of His Name no longer stirs up the fire in our hearts. We have become empty shells serving gods of our own making.

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I [Jesus] have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail . . ." (Luke 22:31-32). Here we see spiritual renewal in these words of Jesus to Simon. It is a matter of the grace and mercy of God. It is the shepherd that restores the lost sheep.

The church has fallen thus far and suddenly you realize you are without hope. Then your voice cries out, "Do not cast me from Your Presence . . ." (Psalm 51:11). God's blessing of spiritual renewal washes over the church. His mercy and grace restore the joy of salvation. Our spirits are renewed (Psalm 51:12). We are filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

Is there the least part of yearning for spiritual renewal in your soul? Do you wish to see the fountain of the Holy Spirit flow? It is not too late. Pray for your church and my church and the church invisible. "Therefore he [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them" (Hebrews 7:25). Christ is consistently interceding for the church. It can do no harm to add our prayers to His. "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Alexander Samuels is a regular contributor to Carolina Christian Conservative.


At Wednesday, September 28, 2005 8:36:00 AM, Blogger Tim said...

I think that part of the problem with seeking spiritual renewal (or, "holiness", from the context of the post)is the reaction of our society when churches, or individual Christians, make an obvious effort AT holiness. That effort may take the form of emphasizing greater diligence in prayer, Bible study or holy living (forsaking things such as questionable movies or TV shows, non-Christian music, books, etc. or giving up other "social sins" such as smoking or drinking). This drive is usually emphasized ONLY within the local body of believers. But there is a strong push against it from people who are either not believers, or people who are Christians in name only. What do we hear when we emphasize "holiness"? "You are being pharisaical", "You are being judgemental". "There is nothing wrong with these things". Within and without the Church we are criticized and harassed when we seek only to improve our walk with Christ.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said "People feel the urge to speak of spiritual things and are deeply concerned that every aspect of their lives be in right relationship to God." It is impossible to emphasize spiritual renewal and not have it come out in our conversations with others. Those who are Christians may be uncomfortable because they are not ready to renew an emphasis on holiness in their own lives. Those who are not Christians are going to be uncomfortable because they will be faced with their distance from the mark (a right relationship with God). Those attempting to kindle the fire of renewal may not be trying to get others to join them. Often they are only expressing what is on their heart in conversation. Regardless, the reaction is to paint those who are attempting to live a more holy or renewed life as being "holier than thou" and judgemental. It is not their intent to be this way, it is the way it is received. And that does not take into account the reaction of society when Christians have the nerve to express the beliefs that certain things (on a national level) are offensive to both them and God.

I am at a point in my life where emphasizing holiness is very attractive to me. I am sorry to say that I have slid away from it in many ways. Compared to society I am still considered a very "godly man" (I am NOT trying to blow my own horn. You can't advertise yourself as a committed Christian and live otherwise.) but society is not the standard. However, I want to be sure that what I am emphasizing as "holiness", in an effort to become spiritually renewed, is not merely the yeast of the Pharisees. Perhaps it would help if I could find others who would commit to this with me, I do not know. It would, however, be interesting to see if others who read this blog might be interested in forming such a partnership. An "internet church" if you will? Because, as we know, Iron sharpens iron. (Proverbs 27:17)

At Thursday, September 29, 2005 10:26:00 AM, Anonymous Alex said...

It is interesting to see the "ordinary not too religious man" judge a Christian as trying to be "holier than thou." The Christian's call is not to live better than the standards of the people who live around him. The Christian is called to live up to God's standard of righteousness. Only the Christian truly understands how little of God's Holiness is being displayed in his life. We fall short of the "mark" daily, but daily we are lifted and encouraged by the Holy Spirit to never give up.


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